The Deets: You'll not often find an oasis of Zen-like calm across from a busy intersection and a Taco Time, but West Seattle's Buddha Ruksa makes a fitting home there, just as Buddha did under the tree where he attained enlightenment. Once inside, subtle lighting, elegant Thai-themed decor, and pleasant servers--all female--create a tranquil dining atmosphere. Tuesdays are 30% off bottles of wine too; on those nights this feature adds extra warmth to Ruksa's glow.
The Beets: While the Buddha was widely believed to be vegetarian, Ruksa is staunchly traditional Thai. There's an entree of crispy duck served six different ways, and our server strongly recommended the crispy garlic chicken, their signature dish, until she realized we--my boyfriend and me--were vegetarian. She quickly steered us toward the vegetarian version--crispy garlic tofu--and indicated most items on the menu can be made vegetarian. Sitting one table away, a fellow diner leaned over and enthusiastically agreed with our server's garlic tofu suggestion.
Yet we sidestepped that dish for some spring rolls to start. They were firm and fresh, fortified with an extra rice paper wrapper, fragrant basil, and thick peanut sauce on the side. Entrees were satisfying, family sized portions, served quick and hot. My Rama Noodle (pictured above) was drowning in peanut sauce and its wide, soft noodles were loaded with crunchy broccoli, Napa cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, and zucchini. With generous chunks of fresh tofu, it was a perfect vegetarian delight. I sampled a taste of my boyfriend's spicy eggplant--he ordered it hot, their four star level--and the flavor was excellent, with a rich, garlicky broth, but wowee zowee, too hot for me.
The Tweet: Friendly service, adaptable entrees, and Zen vibes make Ruksa's non-vegetarian menu easy to work with.